|Filed October 13, 2002 By Jeremy Scahill
BAGHDAD—A leading member of the Iraqi parliament has asserted
that Tuesday’s presidential referendum on Saddam Hussein will
be more fair and democratic than the elections that brought US President
George W Bush to power in Washington.
|Iraqi MP Mohammed Modhfer Al Adhami.
“[Bush] was chosen by the court,” Iraqi MP Mohammed
Modhfer Al Adhami told Iraqjournal.org. “In America and the
west, elections are based on money. [In our elections] there is
no money paying to vote.”
The streets of Baghdad are full of hand-painted banners with the
official slogans for the October 15th presidential referendum on
Saddam Hussein. “Yes, Yes to President Saddam Hussein,”
“Saddam Hussein: The Greatest Leader for the Greatest People,”
“Victory to the Iraqi and Palestinian People,” and “Yes,
Yes Saddam, No, No USA.”
Iraqi TV is also flooded with “campaign ads” urging
people to mark yes on the ballot. Some revolve around Saddam’s
defiance of America and Israel, others portray the president as
a man of the people, mingling with crowds and listening to their
cries. Songs blast extolling the virtues of the Iraqi leader as
hearts and flowers cast around pictures of Saddam fill the screen.
On Tuesday, there will be no candidates on the ballot, no party ticket
to choose from-there won’t even be a question. People will simply
be asked to mark one of two boxes: yes or no. The last time a referendum
was held on the Iraqi leader was in 1995, when he received 99.96%
yes votes. With great candor, Iraqi politicians predict a slight increase
in support from 7 years ago.
|An Iraqi TV ad urging citizens to vote
"Yes" to Saddam Hussein in the October 15th national
“When every Iraqi says
yes to President Saddam Hussein, it’s a challenge to the American
administration, and to the Israelis, and to the British Government,”
said Al Adhami, the Iraqi MP. “We refuse your aggression, your
threat. And we will vote for Saddam Hussein, which means we will vote
for our future.”
People here are aware of the recent reports in the US media of the
alleged plan by Washington to impose a military governor on a post-Saddam
Iraq, modeled after Japan following World War II. According to the
New York Times, the White House is considering a long-term occupation
of Iraq. “In the initial phase, Iraq would be governed by an
American military commander-perhaps Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of
US forces in the Persian Gulf.” This has only reinforced the
single campaign issue in Tuesday’s referendum: a choice between
Saddam and Washington.
“President Saddam Hussein is
now an international personality,” said Al Adhami. “He
is the symbol of challenging this evil aggression which the Americans
will threaten against Iraq. We believe and the Arabs believe that
they will start with Iraq and then move to the other countries.”
Scahill is an independent journalist, who reports for the nationally
syndicated Radio and TV show Democracy Now! He is currently based
in Baghdad, Iraq, where he and filmmaker Jacquie
Soohen are coordinating Iraqjournal.org,
the only website providing regular independent reporting from the
ground in Baghdad.
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